Dear Future Client,
Thanks for contacting us and requesting a website proposal and/or pitch. We’re excited about the possibility of working with you.
We’d love to set up a time to talk with you soon, and we also wanted to take a minute to share how we approach the proposal and pitching process, so you know what to expect from us. It may be a little different from other agencies you’re going to talk to.
Our proposal will tell you everything you need to know before choosing Paper Tiger. But we can’t solve your problems — just yet.
If we think your project is a good fit for Paper Tiger, we will submit a proposal. However, that proposal will only answer your questions at a high level.
Many RFPs ask us to do strategic thinking at this stage of the relationship, and frankly, we can’t give that away for free. Creative thinking is what we sell. It’s our service.
And in reality, making any specific recommendations at this early stage would be doing you a disservice (please see #2 below).
Instead, we invite you to read about our proven process and stellar team. Look at our killer portfolio. Check out reviews from past clients on Clutch. We have 15 years of proof that we are as talented and strategic as we say we are.
We would love to meet and tell you what sets us apart from other agencies. We don't pitch, though.
When we enter a new relationship with a potential client, believe it or not, our goal isn’t to convince you to hire us. Instead, we want to have an honest conversation about whether our capabilities match your needs, and whether we like each other enough as humans to work well together.
Over 15 years, we’ve seen the pitfalls of doing this any other way. So if we have a chance to meet with you, we’ll run through the proposal together and share our process. We’ll ask a lot of questions about your goals and challenges, and you can ask us anything you’d like to know about us. You’ll meet our team and we’ll meet yours.
This is not a performance; it’s a partnership. So let’s start off that way.
Here’s why this is our approach.
1. Giving away free creative is an outdated model.
The creative economy has come a long way since Mad Men. Hell, it’s come a long way in the last 20 years. There used to be an expectation that creative work happened behind some magical curtain and was revealed to the client to gasps of amazement.
Today, our industry, and certainly our company, focuses on working with our clients, not for them. We know that to create a website that makes an impact AND meets business goals, we need to work closely with our clients every step of the way. We believe that a strong collaboration should begin, well, collaboratively — not with an audition. This is why we value the back-and-forth of a conversation so much.
Another thing that’s changed is website technology. When we started Paper Tiger in 2008, building a website was a very challenging technical project. Sites had to be built from scratch, and RFPs were used to vet agencies for technical competency.
Today, most agencies, including ours, use web development platforms like Webflow — which have significantly simplified the development process. So instead of leading with tech, our design ability is what sets us apart. We sell our creative ideas and strategic thinking. We don’t give those things away for free in the sales process, because they’re our most valuable assets.
2. Our discovery process informs our recommendations.
When we start a new project, the first thing we do is a discovery phase. This is an essential process that can take several weeks and involves people from all of our teams: content, design, development, and project management. It helps us dig into our clients’ goals, challenges, and requirements, and gives us time to think creatively and strategically about possible solutions. It results in thoughtful recommendations and informed decisions that act as the foundation for the rest of the project.
In short, our discovery process influences the solutions we recommend. Prior to that process, any recommendations we make would be guesses at best. And that’s a waste of everyone’s time and energy.
In addition, we’ve found that some clients are shooting themselves in the foot by writing up RFPs that are too prescriptive. They are dictating what they think they want and need — but, this means they won’t receive the full benefit of our expertise. It’s like diagnosing yourself before going to the doctor.
Instead, bring us your pain points, your goals, and any project limitations (i.e. your symptoms) and we’ll bring our experience to the table to come up with the best solutions. Our job is to think creatively; let us do that for you.
3. We invest in the quality of our work — not sales.
In order to keep our overhead low and to focus on the quality of our work, we do not have a sales team.
If you contact us about a project, you won’t encounter a big fancy sales team that will badger you with a list of stuff you don’t actually need. Instead, you’ll meet directly with an entrepreneur who will listen to your needs and ensure Paper Tiger is the best fit to help your company reach its goals. We offer close, personal attention, because we’re invested in making sure this relationship will be a good fit for both parties.
And over time, we’ve found this is a much more effective way to build relationships than putting on flashy pitch presentations or writing up detailed proposals with half-baked creative ideas.
So there you have our take on proposals and pitches. If you’d like our additional thoughts on how to implement an RFP-free process, please read our article How to Choose a Web Design Agency.
CEO at Paper Tiger